Despite the cornucopia of cookbooks in kitchens, celebrity chef Art Smith hopes to make a difference with his newest offering. And the secret's in the diet sauce: Art has succeeded in losing 100 pounds after his diagnosis with diabetes three years ago. Now he's combined healthy recipes with his own unique weight loss tips in a cookbook: "Art Smith's Healthy Comfort: How America's Favorite Celebrity Chef Got it Together, Lost Weight, and Reclaimed His Health!"
Here's the 100-pound question: How can a chef famed for fattening Southern cuisine, who owns six fabulous restaurants (including New York's Joanne Trattoria, which is a joint venture with the parents of pop star Lady Gaga), succeed in not just losing weight but also lowering his high cholesterol, reducing his blood pressure and even taking control of his diabetes? Art Smith answered that question in a recent interview with Reuters.
"When I was diagnosed with adult diabetes, the doctor said, 'Control your diet or I have to put you on medication.' So I went on medication rather than address the diet. I did that for a year or so but I wasn't getting better. One of the biggest problems with my diet was that I would use sugar and caffeine to keep my energy level high," he now confesses.
And his diet plan at the time was self-defeating. "I am a bit of a high-strung person. I would be drinking six packs of diet sodas everyday and eating huge amounts of food at night because I hadn't eaten anything else during the day," Art admits.
Diagnosed with diabetes in mid-life, Art "saw myself in a not very good place with my health. I've cooked for billionaires, celebrities and all kinds of people. I was used to cooking food more on the healthy side for them. I have been doing it for years. Whatever diet they brought to me, I did it for them. I never liked diets. I don't think they will work."
Instead, he focuses on healthy living - and that includes healthy recipes that provide his gourmet flavor without the fat.
"The word diet and the word gourmet really bother me because they segregate people from the table and from food. One is like 'I'm not going to eat enough' and the other one is too fancy to eat. I felt like I wanted to bridge the two together because I want to show people that they could have their health and feel comfortable about it," he explains.
Before he lost the weight, Art also suffered professionally.
"I literally lost a television show with a major cable news network because of my weight loss, because they wanted a heavy-set chef just eating food across America, and I wouldn't do that. I'm not going to be one of the types who is going to eat 50 doughnuts. That's not the type of message I want to put out there," he says firmly.
The book marks a landmark for his publishing company: It includes calorie counts for the first time, says Art. It also reflects what he learned about weight loss. Try a sample recipe below from his cookbook: "Art Smith's Healthy Comfort: How America's Favorite Celebrity Chef Got it Together, Lost Weight, and Reclaimed His Health!"
Unfried Chicken with Roasted Brussels Sprouts (serves 4)
For the chicken:
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon Louisiana Hot Sauce or other hot sauce
- 4 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, cut in half
- 1-1/2 cups multigrain or whole wheat panko bread crumbs
- 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon cayenne
- 1-1/2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
For the Brussels sprouts:
- 16 Brussels sprouts, cut in half
- 1-1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the garnish:
1 lemon, quartered
To prepare the chicken: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. In a mixing bowl, mix the buttermilk and hot sauce. Submerge the chicken pieces in the buttermilk and soak in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour but no more than 24 hours. In a gallon-size plastic bag, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan, black pepper, cayenne, onion powder, garlic powder and paprika. Seal the bag and shake until well mixed.
Remove the chicken from the buttermilk and transfer directly to the bag with the bread crumb mixture. Shake the bag until the chicken breasts are evenly coated with the bread crumbs. Remove the chicken breasts from the bag and lay flat on a nonstick baking sheet. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Bake the chicken for 20 to 25 minutes or until just cooked through.
To prepare the Brussels sprouts: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place Brussels sprouts in a medium mixing bowl, toss with the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Spread the Brussels sprouts in a medium ovenproof baking dish and roast for 20 minutes or until caramelized and tender.
Divide the chicken and Brussels sprouts among 4 serving plates, and squeeze the lemon over the chicken.
Per serving: 427 calories; 12 g fat; 3 g sat fat; 79 mg chol; 349 mg sodium; 45 g carb; 6 g sugar; 9 g fiber; 40 g protein; 185 mg calcium